Computer Crime Research Center


A hacker? No, an offline thief

Date: April 12, 2005
Source: Computer Crime Research Center
By: CCRC staff

ZAPOROZHYE, Ukraine (CCRC) - The image of an evil computer genius who penetrates into global computer networks from a home PC and who steals someone else's secrets is getting desperately old.
Offline thieves succeed hackers.

Computers in federal offices or in the General Staff of Armed Forces which contain "something important" on their hard disks are essentially not connected to the Internet. In such agencies users usually have two computers. One is for e-mail, the other is for processing documents. It is done to observe rules of anti-hacker security.

But the data is stolen not through wires, it is stolen occasionally right with PC. In Russia, one of the first stories of such kind occurred in 1997 in the General Army Quartering Department of the Ministry of Defense. On one beautiful night a PC disappeared where a data base on all military personnel who have no personal homes was stored. The building was not connected to the Internet.

In 2000, British military men encountered similar disasters. A laptop computer that contained missing training information for one of Britain's spy agencies was mislaid but was recovered by the police two weeks later. News reports suggested that an M.I.6 agent left the laptop in a taxi after spending a night drinking at a bar near the agency's headquarters. And then someone stole a laptop computer of an M.I.5 agent.

In 2001, the FBI found 184 of office laptops missing during a check, at least one of them contained classified information. The August 2002 FBI report said: "The 317 laptop computers reported missing during our review period equate to approximately 2 percent of the FBI’s current inventory. Once again, however, the loss of these items is significant because of the sensitive nature of the missing property. The loss of information contained on laptop computers could compromise national security or jeopardize ongoing investigations. However, we found that until March 9, 2001, FBI policy did not even require reporting losses of laptop computers to OPR. Moreover, the FBI could not tell whether 224 of the 317 missing laptop computers (71 percent) were lost or stolen; the FBI reported merely that they could not be located."

Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) is a United States Department of Energy (DOE) national laboratory, managed by the University of California, located in Los Alamos, New Mexico. The Laboratory is one of the largest multidisciplinary institutions in the world. It is the largest institution and the largest employer in northern New Mexico with approximately 6,800 University of California employees plus approximately 2,800 contractor personnel.

The laboratory has had a number of scandals. In 1999, Los Alamos scientist Wen Ho Lee was accused of giving nuclear secrets—"weapons codes," used for computer simulations of nuclear weapons tests—to China, but was subsequently acquitted. In 2000, two computer hard drives containing classified data were announced to have gone missing from a secure area within the laboratory, but were later found behind a photocopier; in 2003, the laboratory's director, and deputy director, resigned following accusations that they had improperly dismissed two whistleblowers who had alleged widespread theft at the lab.

In 2000, two computer hard drives containing classified data were announced to have gone missing from a secure area within the laboratory. In July 2004, an inventory of classified weapons data revealed that four hard disk drives were missing; two of the drives were subsequently found to have been improperly moved to a different building, but another two were remained unaccounted for. The last hard disks were directly related to development if nuclear weapon and were found missing in the archive of the Weapons Physics Directorate.

In February 2005, the Bank of America has lost computer backup tapes containing very sensitive personal information about 1.2 million US federal employees containing credit card numbers. The loss is dated December 2004, but the Bank couldn't warn their card holders whose data was stolen owing to the course of investigation.

Russian Central Bank outdid the Bank of America: they lost more than 60Gb data base. They couldn't blame hackers, the thief was the bank's insider and didn't resort to hacking.

"It is almost impossible to steal such a data base directly from a working server", said Ashot Oganesyan, an information security expert. "Security service could easily establish a narrow circle of persons who had access to information. However, it was possible to collect information by parts, making requests and saving the results. In such case, is its badly hard to find out who was the source of the leakage. 60Gb couldn't be transferred through the Internet owing to its slow channels. If the criminal burnt disks, it could take 14 DVDs and one hour of work. Though there were no DVD-burners at the computers of usual bank employees. Obviously, the data was stolen using a mobile device. For instance, it could be a fair Mp3 player. The usual model of Apple iPod device is brought along with 60Gb hard disk and it has a size of a pack of cigarettes", he added.

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2009-12-21 04:46:53 - thx guys i would like trying with it Ahmed-galil
2005-09-17 14:09:39 - Thank you very much! Sofia
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